Political Signs in MT: When Do They Have to Come Down?
Election 2020 is officially over and we survived. Republicans swept the state of Montana and now American's are waiting for just a few states results to see if Trump will retain his spot or if Joe Biden will become the 46th President. We can speculate why our candidates either won or lost all day long, but the people of Montana voted (in record numbers) and we get what we get, right?
The political advertisements on the television, radio and clogging your social media feed have all ended. Thank you, sweet baby Jesus. But what about political yard signs? When does your loudmouth neighbor (the one who always wants to talk about politics) have to take down all of their annoying signs? I still saw hundreds of them on my way to work this morning. Finding answers was a little trickier than I anticipated.
First, I checked to see if there were any statewide regulations regarding when political yard signs must come down in Montana. Guess what? There aren't, according to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices website, stating that yard signs are a matter determined by local municipalities and counties:
The COPP does not have oversight over when citizens may begin to display political signs or when those signs must be taken down.
The Montana Department of Transportation does require that any political sign visible from the highway must be taken down within 30 days of the election. But what about my neighbor in the subdivision? I need answers! The City of Billings website offers guidelines on the size and placement of political yard signs on private property, including the rule that states you can have as many as you want, with one exception:
You may post as many political signs as you want on any one property, so long as the total size of all signs added together do not exceed 32 square feet.
The City offered no dates on when they must come down.
I finally had a EUREKA! moment when I found this short line on the Yellowstone County Elections Office website regarding political signs:
Time limits within the existing City Sign Code are not applicable due to recent court decisions.
There ya go. I guess you can technically leave your campaign sign up indefinitely or until the wind and snow finally blow it into the boulevard. I reached out to Billings Code Enforcement and the person I spoke with said that according to City Code, any temporary yard sign is only supposed to be in the same location for 30 days. But if you pull it out of the ground and move it two inches to the left, it's in a new position and you're good for 30 more days.